Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Review Of Imaginary Future From Finland's French Films

Finland's French Films are doing it right. They are doing it note perfectly, actually.

They have so expertly recreated -- nay, captured -- the sound of an earlier, better era that it's a bit disconcerting. Over the course of 2011's Imaginary Future album and 2010's Golden Sea EP, they have blended Franz Ferdinard, a peppy Interpol, and every good band those good bands nicked from. Add in a unique and undefinable swagger and a peppy ska beat on a few cuts and you've got 2 of the most listenable, most fun releases that I've heard in a long, long time.

Over a Jesus and Mary Chain-inspired wave of feedback, "This Dead Town" rides in on the best New Order riff that the Killers haven't nicked yet. It's a triumphant moment and a great way to kick off Imaginary Future and that first track contrasts nicely with the rapid-fire Wedding Present-meets-Franz Ferdinard-isms of follow-up "You Don't Know" in all of its 2 minutes of glory.

"Golden Sea" -- the name of that earlier EP -- is a hint of The Cure circa "High" and some shouty Britpop-esque vocals. Throw in an O.M.D.-style keyboard run and you've got a capsule history of just about all the best bands of my youth.

"Pretty in Decadence" is like some weird mix of Duran Duran and a 4AD band -- all shimmering guitars and electropop vocals.

"The Great Wave of Light" -- which you can play below -- recalls Wild Swans in some way. The percolating keyboard fights with the lines of shimmery Smiths-inspired guitars to create another winner.

"Living Fortress" slows things down and throws in a Gary Numan-type track, while "Escape in the Afternoon" is more rippling guitars and chiming vocals.

"Convict" -- which you can also play below -- rockets by with a hint of The Wedding Present, a touch of "The Village" by New Order, and a whole lot of goodwill. It's hard not to smile when listening to stuff like this.

"New Zealand" is punchy and poppy and as close to "I Felt Stupid" by The Drums as you can get.

Album closer "Up The Hill" is a slow guitar-wind-up like INXS during their slower numbers.

Imaginary Future is by far from the most original record I've heard lately. Frankly, it's wildly derivative.

However -- and this is important to note -- it's derivative with a sense of purpose. These guys are on a mission and they have largely succeeded. What they lack in originality, French Films more than make up for with conviction and melody and hooks.

The shimmering and cascading guitars on this record -- and there are walls of them -- are really why I love French Films.

They remind me of about a dozen other bands, band I grew up with, but bands I can't quite name at the moment 'cause I'm too busy rocking out with these Finnish lads.

The earlier Golden Sea sort of laid the template for what ended up on Imaginary Future. "Take You With Me" and "Lift Me Up" are buoyant indiepop gems but closer "Dropout Jr." really cranks along. Play it below and you'll see what I mean. The vaguely ska beat and the guitar riffs charmed me on first listen.

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